Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Danger, Danger: Art Can Hurt You

Anish Kapoor, Descent Into Limbo, anishkapoor.com, art can hurt
Anish Kapoor, Descent Into Limbo, anishkapoor.com

Just Weird

Danger, Danger: Art Can Hurt You

Every once in a while, an accident involving an artwork happens. Usually, it is the artwork that ends up damaged, but sometimes it is the audience that comes to harm and gets injured. This happened in case of Descent into Limbo by Anish Kapoor, a work from 1992, exhibited in Serralves Museum in Porto. A 60-year old man discovered, in a painful way, that the limbo is 2,5m deep and definitely is not a black dot on the floor.

 

Anish Kapoor, Descent Into Limbo, anishkapoor.com - art accident

Anish Kapoor, Descent Into Limbo, anishkapoor.com

By no means was Kapoor’s work the first to harm an overly curious audience. Shibboleth from 2007 by Doris Salcedo was a long crack in the floor of the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, symbolizing racial hatred and division in society. It must have been very tempting to check how deep this division is as there were several accidents, luckily with minor injuries, that happened when the work was shown.

Doris Salcedo, Shibboleth, Photo by Nuno Nogueira - art injury

Doris Salcedo, Shibboleth, Photo by Nuno Nogueira


Kapoor’s work was not only a hole, it was a black hole. In 2009 Mirosław Bałka explored the blackness to the extreme in his work How It Is, another troublemaker at the Tate Modern. Bałka installed a huge steel chamber that was completely dark, inviting and challenging the audience to explore the space without relying on their sight. It is quite surprising that only one minor accident happened given that visitors had nothing to help their orientation. Visiting together with others made it even more difficult, as one had to avoid not only walls but also bumping into people. The experience was oppressive despite the vast space.

Mirosłam Bałka, How It Is, whitecube.com - art hurt

Mirosław Bałka, How It Is, whitecube.com

Carsten Höller’s Test Site from 2006 was designed for a more positive and uplifting experience. The installation consisted of several slides placed in the Turbine Hall, giving the audience a rare chance to experience the delight of sliding as an adult. As Höller described them: ‘they’re also a device for experiencing an emotional state that is a unique condition somewhere between delight and madness. It was described in the fifties by the French writer Roger Caillois as ‘a kind of voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind’.’ Unfortunately, they also caused some broken bones.

Carsten Höller, Test Site, Tate Modern - art accident

Carsten Höller, Test Site, Tate Modern


In 1971 Bodyspacemotionthings installation by Robert Morris at Tate had to be closed after only four days, due to: ‘the unexpected and over-enthusiastic response of the audience.’ It was the first fully interactive exhibition consisting of beams, rollers, weights and ramps, inviting the audience to touch, move, climb and balance. People went crazy and not only managed to damage the artwork but also themselves. In 2009 Tate Modern recreated the work, in a much more controlled way and using better materials, but still, it appears no gallery can protect people from themselves.

Robert Morris, Bodyspacemotionthings, 1971/2009—installation view, Tate Modern

Robert Morris, Bodyspacemotionthings, 1971/2009—installation view, Tate Modern

As the modern art abandons the notion of ‘Do Not Touch’ and invites us to interact with artworks it may be good to remember that art may not only move us but also hurt us but then what’s the fun if there is no risk.


If you’d like to read something more uplifting from the safety of your chair/couch check those out:

Fat Cat Art

Fun And Joy In Jan Steen Paintings

How To Tackle Art With Kids

Playing the Museum Dice Game

…and don’t forget the books!

    

Art historian by education, data geek by trade, art and book lover by passion, based in London in love with Europe and travelling around it. You can visit my book blog here: https://bookskeptic.com/

Comments

More in Just Weird

  • 20th century

    Filmmaking is like Painting – Andrzej Wajda as a Painter

    By

    Ladies and Gentlemen, and now I will speak in Polish… – the famous words Polish director Andrzej Wajda (1926-2016) said while receiving an honorary Oscar in 2000 for a lifetime achievement crowned WAJDA, an exhibition revealing Wajda as a painter. Andrzej Wajda is one of the...

  • 21st century

    Damien Hirst’s Butterflies- from Tea-trays to Mandalas

    By

    Damien Hirst – a prominent Young British Artist (YBAs) and now a billionaire – creates sculptures, paintings and drawings. In all of these forms his work challenges the boundaries between art, science and religion. Mandalas is now open at the White Cube Mason’s Yard, London (20...

  • 21st century

    An Introduction to Lee Ufan

    By

    Lee Ufan is a Korean born international artist, whose work is key to the Mono-ha movement. If you have ever been lucky enough to encounter a Lee Ufan in real life you will appreciate its power to bring calm and refresh your view of an object....

  • Foret Lumineuse Foret Lumineuse

    20th century

    TAKIS: the Greek Genius that Altered the Course of Post-war Sculpture

    By

    After Takis’ passing away on 9 August 2019, and with his largest exhibition yet in the UK at Tate, it is important to know about the great Greek artist who changed everything about the way we conceive the sculpture of the second half of the 20th...

  • 21st century

    Nalini Malani – an Introduction

    By

    Nalini Malani (b. 1946) is a brilliant contemporary Indian artist. She is both prolific and internationally acclaimed. “Over an extended career, Malani has been an unremitting voice for the silenced and the dispossessed, most particularly women globally. By alluding to a myriad of cultural references from...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy